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Lewis Morris (Льюис Моррис)


OH ! sometimes when the solemn organ rolls
Its stream of sound down gray historic aisles ;
Or the full, high-pitched struggling symphony
Pursues the fleeting melody in vain :
Like a fawn through shadowy groves, or heroine
Voiced like a lark, pours out in burning song
Her love or grief; or when, to the rising stars
Linked village maidens chant the hymn of eve ;
Or Sabbath concourse, flushed and dewy-eyed
Booms its full bass ; or before tasks begun,
Fresh childish voices sanctify the morn :
My eyes grow full, my heart forgets to beat.
What is this mystic yearning fills my being ?

Hark ! the low music wakes, and soft and slow
Wanders at will through flowery fields of sound ;
Climbs gentle hills, and sinks in sunny vales,
And stoops to cull sweet way-side blooms, and weaves
A dainty garland ; then, grown tired, casts down
With careless hand the fragrant coronal,
And child-like sings itself to sleep.
The loud strain rises like a strong knight armed,
Battling with wrong ; or passionate seer of God
Scathing with tongue of fire the hollow shows,
The vain deceits of men ; or law-giver,
Parting in thunder from the burning hill
With face aflame j or with fierce rush of wings
And blazing brand, upon the crest of Sin,
The swift archangel swooping ; or the roll
Which follows on the lightning ; all are there
In that great hurry of sound.
And then the voice
Grows thinner like a lark's, and soars and soars,
And mounts in circles, higher, higher, higher,
Up to heaven's gate, and lo I the unearthly song
Thrills some fine inner chord, and the swift soul,
Eager and fluttering like a prisoned bird,
Breaks from its cage, and soars aloft to join
The enfranchised sound, and for a moment seems
To touch on some dim border-land of being,
Full of high thought and glorious enterprise
And vague creative fancies, till at length
Waxed grosser than the thin ethereal air,
It sinks to earth again.
And then a strain
Sober as is the tender voice of home,
Unbroken like a gracious life, and lo
Young children sit around me, and the love
I never knew is mine, and so my eyes
Grow full, and all my being is thrilled with tears.

What is this strange new life, this finer sense,
This passionate exaltation, which doth' force
Like the weird Indian juggler, instantly
My soul from seed to flower, from flower to fruit,
Which lifts me out of self, and bids me tread
Without a word, on dim aerial peaks,
Impossible else, and rise to glorious thoughts,
High hopes, and inarticulate fantasies
Denied to soberer hours ? No spoken thought
Of bard or seer can mount so far, or lift
The soul to such transcendent heights, or work
So strong a spell of love, or roll along
Such passionate troubled depths. No painter's hand
Can limn so clear, the luminous air serene
Of Paradise, the halcyon deep, the calm
Of the eternal snows, the eddy and whirl
Of mortal fight, the furious flood let loose
From interlacing hills, the storm which glooms
Over the shoreless sea. Our speech too oft
Is bound and fettered by such narrow laws,
That words which to one nation pierce the heart,
To another are but senseless sounds, or weak
And powerless to stir the soul ; but this
Speaks with a common tongue, uses a speech
Which all may understand, or if it bear
Some seeds of difference in it, only such
As separates gracious sisters, like in form,
But one by gayer fancies touched, and one
Rapt by sweet graver thoughts alone, and both
Mighty to reach the changing moods of the soul,
Or grave or gay, and though sometimes they be
Mated with unintelligible words,
Or feeble and unworthy, yet can lend
A charm to gild the worthless utterance,
And wing the sordid chrysalis to float
Amid the shining stars.
Oh strange sweet power,
Ineffable, oh gracious influence,
I know not whence thou art, but this
I know.
Thou boldest in thy hand the silver key
That can unlock the sacred fount of tears,
Which falling make life green ; the hidden spring
Of purer fancies and high sympathies ;
No mirth is thine, thou art too high for mirth,
Like Him who wept but 'smiled not *, mirth is born
On the low plains of thoughts bes' reached by words.
But those who scale the untrodden mountain peak,
Or sway upon the trembling spire, are far
From laughter ; so thy gracious power divine,
Not sad but solemn, stirs the well of tears,
But not mirth's shallow spring : tears are divine,
But mirth is of the earth, a creature born
Of careless youth and joyance ; satisfied
With that which is ; parched by no nobler thirst
For that which might be ; pained by no regret
For that which was, but is not : but for thee.
Oh, fair mysterious power, the whole great scheme
Lies open like a book ; and if the charm
Of its high beauty makes thee sometimes gay,
Yet 'tis an awful joy, so mixed with thought,
That even Mirth grows grave, and evermore
The myriad possibilities unfulfilled,
The problem of Creation, the immense
Impenetrable depths of thought, the vague
Perplexities of being, touch thy lips
And keep thee solemn always.
Oh, fair voice,
Oh virginal, sweet interpreter, reveal
Our inner selves to us, lay bare the springs,
The hidden depths of life, the high desires
Which lurk there unsuspected, the remorse
Which never woke before ; unclothe the soul
Of this its shroud of sense, and let it mount,
On the harmonious beat of thy light wings,
Up to those heights where life is so attuned,
So pure and self-concordant ; filled so deep
With such pervading beauty that no voice
Mars the unheard ineffable harmony,
And o'er white plain and breathless summit reigns
A silence sweeter than the sweetest sound.

Lewis Morris's other poems:
  1. Waking
  2. The Apology
  3. A Yorkshire River
  4. A Hymn in Time of Idols
  5. A Cynic's Day-Dream

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